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Semiformalishmaybe

Insufficiently Gaarded

(article)(ABC story)

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At some point I need to get someone to explain the semantics of al-Qaeda to me, because I find it hard to believe that one organization is responsible for all terrorist attacks ever. Also you should send your address to my gmail account. I have a postcard that needs to make it's way in your direction.
As far as I understand:
Al Qaeda isn't really an organisation in the deeper senses of the word - it's a very loose confederation of small organisations with only occasional coordination between them, these organisations being devoted to roughly the same causes and considering the same religious/philosophical leaders to be inspirational or authoritative. It may seem, when their leaders claim ties to an attack, to think that there's some strong but very hidden organisation behind it, but in general it's more along the lines of some religious leader saying it would be good to strike at X (where X might be vague) and various local cells that are competent and regional might make a go at it.

They're not really responsible for all terrorist attacks ever (although I doubt that's a serious claim of yours) - they may be one of the most active, high-profile groups in the world today, but there are other Islamic fundamentalist groups that do acts considered "terrorism" (I don't like the term much - has meant too many different things over the years), from the LTTE (Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka who pioneered modern suicide bombing techniques, now largely defanged) to the IRA (also now kaput). Acts considered terrorism often involve nationalism (consider Basque militants, or various Kurdish organisations) or resistance to things that feel like an invasion (cultural or otherwise - Islamic militancy is partly fueled by a feeling that their culture is being overrun, just as various Jewish revolts in times past were caused by fears of assimilation into Roman culture).

I don't think I have your gmail address - I seem only to use mine to send files when I'm on the go.
Andrewid + s @

what I meant was that all western attacks since bush took office have been attributed to al Qaeda and the implication in western news sources is that they are highly organized and affiliated with each other. To some extent people are claiming it as a franchise name, to get news coverage, but I'm wondering how much is that vs real affiliation vs CNN making shit up.
Al Qaeda is reasonably good itself at taking credit for things - Al Jazeera and some other arab news venues print their stuff (whether this is appropriate or not is often discussed in Arab press, and occasionally elsewhere).

If Israel counts as western, then no, not all western attacks have been attributed to Al Qaeda - Hezbollah, for example, is a group that's radically opposed to Al Qaeda (wrong flavour of Islam) and has been fairly active, likewise with Hamas. I don't make much of an effort to follow the Basque conflict, but I would not be surprised if they've been active as well. Skinhead groups are as active as ever in former Baltic regions, although their actions might not be on a scale that we'd consider them to count.

I haven't often seen instances of CNN making things up or exaggerating significantly - they may be selective in their coverage for various reasons (one of which is that the American public lacks the education and interest to understand world politics, although there may be other reasons as well), and one might be able to argue a bias on some issues, but I don't think they're ususually bad as a news organisation.
I understand about the other groups you mentioned :P. Being imprecise due to iPhone keyboard :(.